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The unrealistic world of mamafluensers is landing

Only one in ten mom influencers manage to bring significant income from revealing their motherhood on social networks (photo: CC0 Public Domain)

Mamafluenserka has a perfect kitchen. Her dishes are washed, her counters shine, and her walls are snow-white. She herself is young, beautiful, thin, always smiling. There are several children, between two and a dozen. Her baby is rocking in a beautiful cradle, the little one is in a comfortable stroller, and the older children are dressed in gorgeous clothes that match her own dresses in color. All of these products are expensive but can be bought at a discount if we use her code.

Mamafluensers – these are women, mostly mothers, whose ideal motherly life is like a fairy tale. At least it seems so, as she posts daily pictures of her walks with the children, culinary experiments, fitness exercises. Yes, she even has time for the gym.

A constructed image

The mamafluencer is obviously not a real person. It is an image constructed by social networks and big consumer goods brands. Behind it are mothers trying to make money through social media. Mom influencers are a big marketing tool in advertisers’ arsenals, as it is these women who make the majority of purchasing decisions in the household. And precisely because they are mothers, they often tend to choose expensive items. It cannot be denied that they also have some cultural significance – they are the ones who convey messages to other mothers around the world about what motherhood looks like.

“I had a newborn and a toddler, and I was simultaneously attracted to the rosy images of motherhood while also feeling like someone was selling me half-truths,” says Sara Petersen, a New Hampshire writer and mother of three. She recently published a book about mom influencers. To write it, she previously followed the rise of this particular breed of influencer for 10 years.

What is mamafluencer

The simplest definition states that this is a woman who monetizes her motherhood is social media. The representation of maternal care reveals a lot about what we perceive as valuable to mothers and what is not, says Petersen.

Early mom influencership involves moms who have their own blogs and share their day-to-day excitement around raising children. During this period, advertising companies look for similar blogs to place their banner ads there. This means the company has an ad image that is created by designers and pays moms with personal blogs to put the banner on their site – somewhere around their posts. The blogs themselves contain long, detailed narratives but few pictures.

With the rise of Instagram, the text-to-image ratio is flipping. Many of the mom influencers bet on the beautiful images of motherhood. Their pictures are shiny, beautiful. Everything in their lives seems to be perfect. Their kitchens are an aesthetic model, the children are like models from a fashion magazine, flowers and herbs shine in the window boxes. Everything is as beautiful as in an English garden. Life seems like a parade of art and aesthetics.

In terms of the influencer toolkit, the photo is king. The monetization model is also changing. The time of sponsored content is coming: the mom influencer gets paid to publish certain frames or a short video.

Is money being made?

One reason for the rise of mom influencers, of course, is the sheer number of moms on social media. But there is another: motherhood covers so many consumer categories! Mothers make decisions about all sorts of purchases: sofas, vacuum cleaners, sleeping bags, diapers, books and what not. Almost everything in modern life can be directly related to the quest to be a “good mother”. And big brands understand this well.

Many of today’s women enter motherhood completely unprepared for the experience that awaits them. At a time when ladies seem to have won their total independence, they no longer have the support of the older women in the clan – their mothers and mothers-in-law with their expertise in raising children. But this does not mean that the modern mother does not need assistance. And she looks for it where we all look for advice, information or a referral: online. Every mother strives to be the best mother she can be and looks for all kinds of ways to get her motherhood “right”.

But mom influencers who put work and effort into their stories and photos don’t always earn from such work. Another author who has researched the influencer phenomenon – Brooke Erin Duffy – estimates that only 9 percent of mom influencers earn enough to live on. The best, the super successful, make a lot of money by having “huge brand partnerships” with IT giants.

“I think that’s one of the misconceptions: that it’s easy, that you just take some pretty pictures and the money will flow,” says Sara Petersen.

Another illusion is the idea that if you’re a mom influencer, you’ll just enjoy watching your kids and make some good money in the meantime. Yes, the mamafluenser will look after her children, no doubt. But for the money to come, she has to put in a lot of work. She has to take pictures, edit the picture, write the text, but above all, keep a long and “irritating” correspondence with her sponsors, be persuasive, always be online, fulfill her commitments regardless of the cares around the teenagers.

Transition to TikTok

Nowadays, mom influencers are turning to the newest, hit social network, TikTok. This also changes their “employment” profile.

One major distinguishing feature of the change is that the work is now much less focused on image manipulation. Everything should look authentic, unpolished. The lighting is bad, the surroundings can be messy and even dirty. The viewer should not feel that the scene is orchestrated and directed.

This is a parade of “earthly” mothers who are by no means perfect. Peterson even talks about the “rise of the shuffled house.” Mom influencer is looking for a way to look more realistic because viewers are tired of seeing perfect mothers with perfect figures, with perfect babies and perfect kitchens.

The fine point here is to find the right balance between “realistic” and ideal. It is still true that what drives people to watch content on social media is the unconscious pursuit of something they wish they could be or have. A good mother fluency is still a model, a role model. It must carry within itself some ideal. But now it has to be served with that “earthy”, “authentic” design that makes her look quite ordinary and imperfect.

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